INTERNATIONAL PEN POEM RELAY
The Poem Relay seeks to raise awareness about freedom of expression in China in a uniquely PEN way – through poetry and translation.
PEN Centres have been invited to translate and record a short poem, June (Liuyue) by the Chinese poet, journalist and PEN member, Shi Tao, into as many languages as possible. Shi Tao is serving ten years in prison on the charge of "revealing state secrets abroad".
Via a website with a map of the world and a relay itinerary (similar to the Olympic Torch Relay itinerary), the poem will virtually “travel” around the world, from centre to centre, language to language, adding new translations as it goes, and ending in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. Visitors to the website will be able to track the poem’s progress and read and hear new translations of the poem as it arrives at each new centre. As there are more PEN centres than there are destinations for the Olympic Torch, the Poem Relay Itinerary will be different from that for the Olympic Torch, but it is hoped it will intersect with it (unofficially) when it can.
The Poem Relay draws together several aspects of PEN -- freedom of expression, translation and linguistic diversity -- to send the world a message that only PEN can send:
• It supports Freedom of Expression. The poem is by an imprisoned writer, a main case of PEN, and is itself about a forbidden, censored topic.
• It celebrates Poetry and Linguistic Diversity. The translation and "relay" demonstrate the diversity of languages, literatures, and writers in the world, while at the same time demonstrating International PEN's diversity and global reach.
The Poem Relay is one of a number of actions organised as part of International PEN’s 2008 China Campaign in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. The Relay will be managed by a Relay Team on behalf of International PEN and its China Campaign. The team consists of: PEN Sydney (Chip Rolley), Independent Chinese PEN Centre (Zhang Yu) and Swiss German PEN Centre (Kristin T. Schnider).
The following SA PEN members kindly agreed to participate in the project and have submitted their translations:
Dr. Azila Reisenberger – Hebrew
Stanley Onjezani Kenani – Chichewa
D.M. Bin Ngulu Kabemba - French, Lingala and Swahili
June "arrived" at the PEN Club Hellenique in Athens, Greece, on the 30th March. On the 31st March the poem “arrived” at the Austrian, German-speaking Writers Abroad and Polish PEN Centres. June will arrive in South Africa on the 13th April so diarise to visit www.penpoemrelay.org on this date! Click on the yellow flag on South Africa on the map of the world. You will be able to see and hear Azila, Stanley and Kabemba’s translations.
Letter on Zimbabwe - 1st May 2008
from Vaclav Havel, Doris Lessing, Bill Morris, David Puttnam & Kenneth Roth
73rd International PEN Congress calls for end to insult and defamation laws and to honour the protection of linguistic rights
International PEN’s historic 73rd Congress closes today calling again for the end to insult and defamation laws worldwide and a commitment to supporting and protecting languages under threat. With more than 200 delegates from over 70 countries representing the wealth of world literature, International PEN celebrated and applauded the diversity of its members work, particularly the work of African PEN members and writers, whilst also supporting resolutions to protect and defend the freedom to write, and welcoming three new Centres, Afar-Speaking, Iraqi and Jordanian. The Writers in Exile Network focussed on the extreme situation for Iraqi writers, many of whom are forced into hiding or exile, and called upon the US Government to take responsibility for refugees, their protection and resettlement.
International PEN’s International President Jiří Gruša says ‘International PEN and all its Centres have been privileged to discuss, in Dakar, its ideas and its future. We are pleased to meet in Africa and to welcome three new Centres to the PEN family.’
On Monday 9 July, the Assembly of Delegates elected a new International Secretary, Eugene Schoulgin (Norwegian PEN Centre), who takes the position from Joanne Leedom-Ackerman on Thursday 11 July.
‘International PEN has held an historic and very successful Congress in Senegal,’ notes Joanne Leedom-Ackerman. ‘The Senegalese PEN Centre has extended grand hospitality to us all. The discussions among delegates have focussed specifically on PEN’s work in Africa and around the world that supports the right to express thoughts freely through the written word. The Women Writer’s Committee Conference tomorrow continues these discussions and will give a platform for female voices from across the world to discuss and debate their work.’
‘It is a great honour to be elected as International Secretary,’ Eugene Schoulgin adds. ‘My belief is that International PEN has an extremely important role to play in the world today, and it is my ambition to make our voice louder and clearer, to promote literature from every continent and to further the work of International PEN that defends freedom of expression.’
Eric Lax (USA Pen Centre) was elected as International Treasurer.
Two new Vice Presidents were elected; Margaret Atwood (Canadian PEN Centre) for services to literature and Niels Barford (Danish PEN Centre) for services to PEN. They will join other Vice Presidents such as Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison and Boris A. Novak.
Also elected were four new members of the Board, Haroon Siddiqui (Canadian PEN Centre), Takeaki Hori (Japanese PEN Centre), Kristin T. Schnider (Swiss-German PEN Centre) and Mike Butscher (Sierra Leone PEN Centre). They join other distinguished writers on the Board of International PEN in visioning the future of the organisation with the International President, International Secretary, the Secretariat in London led by Executive Director Caroline McCormick and all Committees and PEN Centres.
Mike Butscher comments ‘I feel very proud to be elected to such a prestigious Board of writers. My election demonstrates that PEN is committed to work in Africa and will inspire African Centres. It unites people from diverse backgrounds into one union promoting literature and culture and defending freedom of expression. I will strive to uphold the ideals of PEN.’
The week in Dakar also gave International PEN the opportunity to further consolidate programmatic work with the 15 active African PEN Centres including representatives from Senegal, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Ghana. Funding is secured for the next five years for the continuation of these programmes from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. On Saturday 7 July ‘Freedoms’, a night of African literature, took place in association with TrustAfrica and hosted by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina. It celebrated some of the established and emerging voices in Africa, some of which will be published in the next edition of Pen International, International PEN’s bi-annual magazine. TrustAfrica funded five delegates to attend Congress and will begin collaborating with African Centres to encourage and support activity and writing, facilitated by International PEN. In 2008, the regional focus work will continue in Latin America.
Freedom of expression is central to International PEN’s work and this was reflected in 12 resolutions that were passed by the Assembly of Delegates, ranging from the imprisonment of writers in China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Eritrea, Cuba and Vietnam, killings of journalists in Mexico and Afghanistan and the forced closure of a television station in Venezuela. In 2007, International PEN has been focussing on the issue of insult and defamation laws used to silence dissent and special focus was given to Turkey and to the prevalence of such laws across Africa. The Assembly of Delegates remembered and celebrated the lives of two courageous writers, both members of PEN, each of whom played a vibrant role in promotion of free expression in their countries. Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian investigative journalist and writer, was assassinated at her home in Moscow in October; and Hrant Dink, the Armenian Turkish Editor working for reconciliation between the two communities was killed at his office in Istanbul in January. Other writers have continued to be harassed and threatened due to their opinions expressed in their writing, most notable of which is Salman Rushdie whose recent Knighthood bestowed by the Queen of the United Kingdom has sparked a resurgence of threats against him.
Tomorrow, 12 July, the International Women Writers Committee Conference takes place. It will examine the challenges faced by women writers across the world, engage with current issues of freedom of expression and censorship and self-censorship, discuss women’s literacy and education opportunities and explore publishing potential for voices that struggle to be heard for reasons outside their control. Writers taking part include Buchi Emecheta (African Writers Abroad Centre), Ekbal Baraka (Egyptian PEN Centre) and Zeinab Koumanthio Diallo (Guinean Centre).
About International PEN
Established in 1921, International PEN is the worldwide association of writers. Today, it has 144 Centres in 101 countries and exists to promote literature, to defend freedom of expression and to develop a worldwide community of writers. It has four Committees - Writers in Prison, Translation and Linguistic Rights, Writers for Peace and Women Writers – and the Writers in Exile Network. The membership of International PEN is open to all qualified writers who subscribe to the International PEN Charter regardless of nationality, language, race, colour or religion. International PEN is a non-political organisation and has Category A consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations.
For more information please contact Emily Bromfield, International PEN Communications Manager.
Phone: 011 44 (0) 20 7405 0338
Brown University's International Writers Project Fellowship - Applications close 15/02/09
The fellowship, which is sponsored by the William H. Donner Foundation, provides institutional, intellectual, artistic and social support to writers who face personal danger, oppression, and/or threats to their livelihood in nations throughout the world. Each academic year, the fellowship is granted to one writer who is unable to practice free expression in his or her homeland. Deeply practical in nature and intention, the academic-year fellowship covers the costs of relocation and the writer's living expenses in the U.S., and also provides an office on the campus of Brown University for ten months.
International Writers Project founder Robert Coover points out that, while the Literary Arts Program at Brown has been providing freedom-to-write fellowships since 1989 and has a long history of engagement in freedom of expression issues, "not in recent history has the basic principle of free expression been under such worldwide threat as right now, making fellowships like this one a top priority for any writing program or university. Not only does the fellowship provide needed support and sanctuary to an individual writer, it also signals a commitment to the principle of freedom of expression and, through its association with cultural programs, seeks to heighten awareness of that principle's vulnerability and the need for international solidarity in its protection."
The 2008 - 2009 IWP Fellow is Burmese novelist Thida. Previous IWP Fellows have included Zimbabwean novelist Chenjerai Hove, Iranian novelists Moniro Ravanipour, Shahryar Mandanipour, and Shahrnush Parsipur, and Congolese playwright and novelist Pierre Mumbere Mujomba.
The IWP Fellowship is open to established creative writers (fiction writers, poets, or playwrights) who are persecuted in their home countries or who are actively prevented from pursuing free expression in their literary art. Writers interested in applying for the fellowship should send a case history, providing publishing history and explaining need, a writing sample, and a resume, to the Graduate Program in Literary Arts, Box 1923, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, or they may email materials to firstname.lastname@example.org. Persons wishing to make the IWP aware of a writer in need, or wishing to nominate a candidate, should also contact the program as noted above. The IWP will be accepting applications until February 15, 2009. More information about the IWP is available on the Literary Arts Program website, www.brown.edu/cw (click on IWP).
2008/09 European Union Literary Award Call for Entries - Deadline 16/02/09
Have your first novel published and win R25,000
- Submit a first, unpublished work of fiction in English.
- The award is open to all South African writers residing in South Africa.
- R25,000 prize money
- Publication of the manuscript by Jacana Media
- Inclusion of the published novel on the Exclusive Books Homebru List
The closing date for all entries is 16 February 2009.
For the full entry details go to www.jacana.co.za. Queries to Emily Amos at 011 628 3212 or email@example.com
Literary Journal Green Dragon 7 calls for short stories
Green Dragon 7, a literary journal, to be published in May 2010, is to be a special edition of short fiction only, and will be guest edited by SA PEN member Arja Salafranca.
Submit, by hard copy, no more than three items of short fiction, in English, between 2500 and 6000-7000 words. There is no theme.
These should be mailed, with an SASE included, as well as a contactable day number and an email address to Arja Salafranca, PO Box 1171, Bromhof 2154, South Africa. Alternatively email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuscripts without an SASE will not returned, and no correspondence will be entered into about rejected stories.
Submission deadline is the end of November 2009. Successful authors will receive a contributors' copy.
Call for Applications: Writer/Storyteller-in-Residence
The incumbent will provide mentorship and practical artistic advice to developing writers and storytellers at the University of Manitoba, give a limited number of readings or performances on campus, and lead an informal non-credit workshop.
The remaining time will be devoted to the writer or storyteller's own artistic projects. Salary is $20,000 for this four-month position, from approximately Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2011. Accommodation and return transportation will be provided.
Please submit a covering letter, CV or résumé (outlining publications, performances, awards, residencies), a writing sample of no more than 20 pages (double-spaced and typed in a standard 12-point font) and two letters of reference. All nationalities are encouraged to apply; however, full proficiency in English is required. The Centre is committed to principles of employment equity. Information about the Centre may be found at http://umanitoba.ca/centres/ccwoc/
Send applications by Nov. 22/10 to:
Dr. Warren Cariou,
Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture
University of Manitoba
391 University College,
220 Dysart Road
PETINA GAPPAH SIGNS TRANSATLANTIC CONTRACT
But this insert is to highlight the achievement of another SA PEN Literary Award winner, Petina Gappah, featured below. Congratulations Petina on a transatlantic publishing contract with Faber in the UK and Farrar Strauss & Giroux in the US. This great achievement means that your career as a writer will be rewarding professionally - as well as literarily significant.
Write! Africa Write!
South African PEN
A pre-emptive offer was made via agent Claire Paterson at Janklow & Nesbit. The short stories anthology An Elegy for Easterly will be published in the UK first, with an April 2009 launch, coming out in the US in June. The novel The Book of Memory has been scheduled for publication in spring 2010.
Both works deal with issues faced by Zimbabweans, including the ongoing hyper-inflation and life under president Robert Mugabe's regime. Lee Brackstone, publishing director for fiction at Faber in the UK, described Gappah as "the voice of contemporary Zimbabwe". He added: "These stories and the accompanying pages for a novel in progress are exhilarating-unflinching in their portrait of a country and people in torment yet full of spirit, humour and humanity."
Mitzi Angel, publisher at the US arm Faber Inc, added: "I'm delighted to be publishing this talented writer in America, and equally delighted that this will be the first shared acquisition for Faber in the UK and Faber in the US."
HSBC/SA PEN WINNER AWARDED CAINE PRIZE
Henrietta Rose-Innes wins 2008 Caine PrizeSouth African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes has won the 2008 Caine Prize for African writing for her short story Poison. Henrietta won the 2007 HSBC / SA PEN Literary Award for Poison which was published in `African Pens', one of a series of books of new creative writing which showcased selected contributions to the 2007 HSBC / SA PEN competition.
The Chair of Caine Prize Judges, Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly, announced Henrietta as the winner of the £10 000 prize at a dinner held last night (Monday, 7 July) in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Kelly said that Poison showed "a sharp talent, a rare maturity and a poetic intelligence that is both subtle and deeply effective. It is writing of the highest order."
Henrietta was born in Cape Town and obtained her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town, after studying archaeology and biological anthropology. Her first novel Shark's Egg was published in 2000 and her second, The Rocket Alphabet, appeared in various publications. She has also compiled an anthology of South African Writing, Nice Times! A book of South African pleasures and delights (2006). In 2007 and 2008 she was a fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart.
Anthony Fleischer, president of South African Centre of International PEN congratulated Henrietta and said that her literary achievements contributed great value to the campaign to encourage new writing in Africa. He said that SA PEN has published eight volumes of new writing over the years, with contributions from many distinguished writers.
Fleischer also congratulated Stanley Onjezani Kenani and Gill Schierhout who were on the 2008 Caine Prize shortlist of five authors. Their selected short stories were also published in `African Pens'.
Earlier this year, SA PEN recently announced a new literary award to replace the HSBC / SA PEN Literary Award.
The new award for original short stories in English will be known as the PEN / STUDZINSKI Literary Award. John Studzinski, a global investment banker and philanthropist, has generously donated the prize money.
Nobel Laureate John Coetzee has agreed to be the final judge for the new award.
Writers who are citizens of African countries are encouraged to begin preparing short stories for submission. There is no age limit. Further information and detailed rules of entry are available on the SA PEN website, www.sapen.co.za.
For media enquiries regarding the PEN / STUDZINSKI Award, please contact: Lesley Lambert Tel: +27 (0)83 326 2500 Email: email@example.com
For administrative enquiries regarding the PEN / STUDZINSKI Award, contact: Deborah Horn-Botha Tel: +27 (0)21 701 8510 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To arrange an interview regarding the Caine Prize with Henrietta Rose-Innes, contact: Abigail Cochrane Tel: 020 7630 9778 Mobile: 078 5094 5896
Jul 10th 2008 From The Economist print edition
Readers reward horrible histories
Raitt Orr & Associates Her dark materials
THE post-apocalyptic seems to be all the rage with readers of novels and short stories, both highbrow and low. On July 10th an international readers' poll voted "Midnight's Children" the best novel ever to win the Man Booker prize, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. In the same week, Henrietta Rose-Innes (pictured right), a 36-year-old South African writer, won the "African Booker", the £10,000 ($20,000) Caine prize for African writing, for a creepy short story entitled "Poison".
Sir Salman Rushdie's most famous novel opens on the night India was partitioned, August 14th 1947, a date that amounted to the apocalypse for many. As a new border was drawn, hiving off Pakistan from India, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Hindus were hacked to death in a frenzy of sectarian killing from which both nations have yet to recover. As independence dawned, few would have bet on a future of peace for the subcontinent, let alone prosperity.
"Midnight's Children" marked the end of Raj literature and the birth of a new and palpable post-colonial literary excitement. This reviewer remembers being so absorbed by the book when it first came out in 1981 that she forgot to get off the tube and ended up at the end of the Piccadilly line in the far north-east of London.
In Ms Rose-Innes's prize-winning "Poison", it is not blood that fills the atmosphere but a toxic black grit-fallout from an explosion at a chemical factory that has emptied Cape Town of its inhabitants. Reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic work of an earlier generation, Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" (1957), "Poison" explores a city where there is no power and no petrol; only birds falling dead "like lumps of some tarry black precipitate" from a sky thick with "bloody light". Jude Kelly, chair of the judges, said the story showed "a sharp talent, a rare maturity and a poetic intelligence that is both subtle and deeply effective".